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tv   PBS News Hour  WETA  October 1, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: the supreme court opened its new session today with a docket of cases that could prove as consequential as last year's health care decision. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, marcia coyle of the "national law journal" walks us through a term that will tackle affirmative action, and may decide disputes over same-sex marriage and civil rights law. >> woodruff: then we turn to the presidential campaign and the analysis of stuart rothenberg and susan page as the candidates fine tune their messages days before the first debate.
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>> brown: we zero in on one issue confronting the candidates. hari sreenivasan reports on the safety net program known as medicaid. >> anyone of us at an advanced age really is just one fall away from a broken hip that could end you up in a nursing home. >> woodruff: ray suarez talks with author hedrick smith. his new book explores the dismantling of the american dream for the middle class. >> brown: and we look at oppression and empowerment for women around the world, with journalists and filmmakers nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn. >> once you give a woman education and a chance to work, she can astound you. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> brown: three months after upholding president obama's
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health care law, the supreme court is back with a docket that may even rival last year's term for drama. the justices will decide a case on affirmative action in higher education, and are expected to take up disputes on same-sex marriage, civil rights law, and more. the term opened today with arguments in another controversial case: whether businesses can be sued in u.s. courts for human rights violations that occur in foreign countries. marcia coyle of the "national law journal" was in the courtroom this morning, and is back with us tonight. welcome back. >> nice to be back. brown: let us stipulate, as the lawyers say, that last year was a blockbuster. >> absolutely. brown: new this term has some potential itself as well, right? affirmative action. >> yes, it does, jeff. it would be a different kind of blockbuster term. last term was really a lot about the structure of government under the constitution. did congress exceed its law-making powers under the constitution when it enacted the health care law? what role do state governments have in enforcing immigration
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laws? this term a lot of the questions either on the docket or pending, whether the court will take them, really involve equality issues. issues arising under the equal protection act. >> brown: affirmative action is on the docket. >> it is. it's going to be argued next week. it involves the university of texas and whether it can use race as a factor in its admissions policy in order to increase diversity within its student body. >> brown: we're definitely going to look at that next week. but pending, as you say, as you used the word, same sex marriage. >> yes. there are seven petitions that have been filed in the court but they really break down into two cases. first, challenges involving the federal defense of marriage act, a key provision defines marriage for all federal purposes as between a man and a woman. and then the second set involves california's proposition 8.
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that proposition bannedded same sex marriage in california. >> brown: wading into an area where states are voting all the time on. >> absolutely. railroad referendums on a number of state ballots involving same sex marriage. >> brown: just a couple of other cases we might see. civil rights. voting rights act of 1965. >> yes. there are challenges to what is considered the crown jewel of the civil rights movement. section 5 of the 1965 voting rights act requires jurisdictions that have a history of past discrimination in voting to get pre-approval from the justice department or a federal court in washington whenever they make changes in their voting practices. that secon... that section is bg challenged in two cases although the court hasn't said it would review them. also we may see section 5 being challenged in cases involving voter i.d. laws. as you know the justice department has filed a number of suits in states that have enactd voter identification laws.
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>> brown: all right. now, when we last talkd, things ended with tension, with questions about the role of the chief justice, whether somehow he had switchd to becoming, you know, somehow closer to center. whether he might be the deciding vote on a lot of different cases. how much of that... you were able to talk to a couple of just titions over the summer. some of them have been appearing on television occasionally. how much of that seems to linger on. >> i can tell you from at least opening day today that there didn't appear to be any lingering tensions. this was a court that was business as usual. but also i can tell you just from personal experience, i remember bush v. gore and the after math of that decision. there was a lot of bitterness and anger. yet the court moved very quickly into doing business. under roberts court the high point i think for the emotion and anger was the last day of
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the 2006-07 term when they issued a ruling again on race involving whether school districts could use race to assign students to public schools. but over the summer that dissipated as well. as one of the justices said, we move on. and this court does. it actually has almost two decades now of being perhaps the most collegial court in modern times. >> brown: of course that won't stop us from watching... especially by chief justice roberts. >> that's right. chief justice roberts is a very conservative justice. i don't think his ruling in the health care law changes that one bit. >> brown: now the case that they did argue today. it's about using u.s. courts to bring international human rights law into effect against multinational corporations. >> right. brown: trying to spit it out. mulley national corporations is what i'm trying to say. >> it involves a 1789 law, the alien tort statute.
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very simple, straight-forward law that says federal courts have jurisdiction over actions brought by aliens who have been basically injuredded by violations of international law or violations of treaties of the united states. this is oal business. the court heard arguments last term on whether corporations could be held liable under that statute. then it later ordered reargument on a broader question. that is whether these cases can be brought in u.s. courts against any defendant who committed a violation in a foreign country. and today the court heard arguments on that. it's hard to tell. it seemed a number of justices were not happy with business' approach which is to say there is no extra territorial application of this law, period. and yet also we're not too crazy about the human rights groups' argument that federal courts should be open to cases where
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there's absolutely no connection to the united states. >> brown: so what are the stakes? you've got... the stakes for business clearly doing business abroad. and there are stakes for human rights law application. >> right. business looks at these cases as very costly to defend. they don't like to be labeled either correctly or not correctly as human rights violators. they want to see them ended in terms of events occurring in foreign countries. human rights organizations have used this law as a very effective tool. even if they don't win these cases -- and many times it has the effect of changing the behavior of corporations that are operating in countries with repressive regimes. >> brown: one more quick question about the term. >> okay. brown: of course it comes against the back drop of the presidential campaign. >> ah, yes. brown: that might impact the future of the court. there are several older jurists although they still seem to be
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quite vigorous. >> i believe they are we have four justices in their mid to late 70s. there is the potential for either candidate, president obama or mitt romney, to change the direction of the depending on who may retire in the next four years. there's no indication that anyone of them wants to retire. but you never know. >> brown: i wonder if that keeps everybody watching these cases even more carefully against that back drop. >> it always does. it will be very interesting the next four years. >> brown: marcia coyle of the national law journal, welcome back. thanks as always. >> my pleasure, jeff. woodruff: still to come on the newshour, our >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour, our campaign update with susan page and stuart rothenberg on the big debate happening wednesday; medicaid, as both sides see it; the middle class and the american dream; and documenting the worldwide oppression of women, with filmakers nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn. but first, the other news of the day, here's kwame holman. >> holman: a suicide bomber in afghanistan killed at least 14
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people today, including three american troops. the attack came as the number of u.s. deaths in the afghan war went above 2000 during the weekend. in the latest violence, u.s. forces were on patrol with afghan troops in khost when the bomber drove his motorcycle into their midst and set off explosives. the blast strewed debris across a marketplace. in addition to the americans, ten afghan civilians and police were killed. in iraq, the government announced 365 people were killed during september, the most in more than two years. the total included 26 iraqis who died sunday. a wave of bombings targeted shi- ite neighborhoods, from the northern city of kirkuk to the southern town of kut. the iraqi affiliate of al-qaeda claimed responsibility. iran has restored access to google's e-mail service, a week after the government blocked it. the initial action against g-mail was taken after an anti-
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islamic video appeared on google's video hosting site, youtube. but the loss of service drew complaints from users, including members of the iranian parliament. the people of greece got more grim news today: they're facing a sixth year of recession. a draft budget projected the greek economy will shrink again in 2013 by almost 4%. unemployment is set to rise another full point, to nearly 25%. meanwhile, euro-zone officials reported unemployment across the continent remained at a record high of 11.4% in august. . >> the figure is much higher than a year ago. it demonstrates the importance of putting in place effective reforms to reverse the trend in unemployment and in particular youth unemployment. it's clearly unacceptable that 25 million europeans are now out of work. we have to take measures to put an end to the current crisis and to give priority to job
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creation. >> holman: in another development, there were growing indications today that spain could request an international bailout. wall street got a rally going today, but it faded some after remarks by the chairman of the federal reserve. ben bernanke said in a speech that the economy still isn't growing fast enough to cut into unemployment. in the end, the dow jones industrial average gained 78 points to close at 13,515. the nasdaq fell more than two points to close at 3113. another major auto recall is in the works. honda announced plans to check more than 500,000 accords in the u.s. for a defective hose that can leak fluid and catch fire. the problem affects model years 2003 through 2007 of v-6 engine cars. the accord is the second best- selling car in the u.s., after the toyota camry. white house officials have acknowledged an attempt to hack the executive mansion's computer
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system. the associated press reported today the recent effort targeted an unclassified network, but the officials said the attack was spotted and stopped. there was no word on who was behind the attempt. a founder and leader of modern ecology, dr. barry commoner, died sunday. his work on radioactive fallout helped lead to the nuclear test ban treaty in 1963. he also was a prominent figure in the first "earth day" in 1970, and even ran for president in 1980. barry commoner was 95 years old. and "new york times" publisher arthur ochs sulzberger died saturday. he led the paper for 30 years, and in 1971 made the decision to publish the pentagon papers, a classified history of u.s. involvement in vietnam. arthur ochs sulzberger was 86 years old. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. we turn to the presidential campaign, with both candidates awaiting their high-stakes meeting wednesday night.
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workers prepared the debate space at the university of denver. while the candidates prepared themselves for wednesday night's first face-off. it's to focus on domestic policy and will be moderated by the pbs newshour's own jim leer. republican mitt romney made his way westward from boston with a rally in denver planned for this evening. president obama was in henderson, nevada, getting ready. last night he tried to lower expectations for himself at a rally in las vegas. >> i know folks in the media are speculating already on who is going to have the best zingers. >> you are! i don't know about that. who is going to put the the most points on the board. >> you are! no, no, governor romney is a good debater. i'm just okay. >> woodruff: by contrast a prominent romney supporting was
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out hyping his candidate's debating skills. new jersey governor chris christie on cbs's face the nation yesterday. >> i've seen mitt romney do this before. he's going to come in wednesday night and lay out his vision for america. he's going to contrast what his view is and what the president's record is. and the president's view for the future. this whole race is going to be turned upsidedown come thursday morning. >> woodruff: like wise president obama's senior advisor david pluf offerd this assessment on nbc's meet the press. >> challengers tend to benefit from debates. we've expected all along that governor romney will have a good night. he's prepared more than any candidate in history. he's showing himself to be a very, very good debater through the years. we understand that this is an important moment. >> woodruff: and more important moments are to come. the second presidential debate will be aan town hall format at hofstra in hempstead, new york, on october 16. that's to be followed by a foreign policy debate at lynn university in boca raton,
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florida, on october 22. the vice president shall debate will be held october 11 at center college in danville, kentucky. heading into the series, the latest polls show that nationally the obama-romney race is still close. but the president is moving ahead in most of the battle ground states. to get a sense of where the race stands, and what each campaign believes the candidates must do in those debates, we're joined by our regular duo, stuart rothenberg of the "rothenberg political report" and "roll call," and susan page, washington bureau chief of "u.s.a. today." welcome back to both of you. >> good to be here. woodruff: we just reported again, stu, nationally the race looks pretty close but in the battle ground states the president seems to have lead. what do you make of all that? >> that's exactly the case. national numbers show obama leading by two to four points. some polls have it it a little bit more. it's in the swing states particularly critical ohio where
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the obama lead appears to be four- to eight-points, something in that range. there are two possible regulations. one is state-specific factors that are affecting voters in those states. for example, in virginia and ohio, a better-than-average national economy. but the other conclusion it seems to me that you have to arrive at is campaigns matter. the obama folks are running a good campaign with good ads, good messaging in these swing states. >> woodruff: that's where they're putting all these efforts. >> they're running more ads. they ran more ads in the spring. they had more money to run ads in the summer. that was a time when they were really attacking governor romney trying to undermine his credentials on the economy. the romney campaign for financial reasons and also following their own strategy didn't respond as fully. didn't spend as much money on ads as the obama group did. this is a good bet that the obama campaign is thinking they
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have won. >> woodruff: maybe it's paying off. >> no question about it that the romney folks held back figuring that they could move numbers late. turned out the president's campaign moved the numbers early. >> woodruff: let's talk about these two debates, stu. what does each campaign think it needs to do on wednesday night? let's start with romney. >> normally when you have these presidential debates the challenger needs to look presidential. i don't think the romney folks think that's a problem. he looks like a president. he has experience and maturity. but clearly they need to change the dynamic of the race. all the narrative is bad for the challenger. the obama campaign has been really successful in making the campaign about mitt romney personally, his values, who he stands for. i think the romney folks have to change that. >> woodruff: what do you think? i think that's right. he needs to do two things. he needs to be on the attack on the offense against president obama. he needs to tie people's unhappiness with the economy to obama's own policies because now
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we have a lot of people unhappy about the economy but not necessarily blaming the president for that. the other thing is he needs to convey to people that he understands something about the struggles of their lives because his biggest deficit in the polling that we do is that sense that he doesn't have a sense... he doesn't care about people like me. he doesn't understand the troubles and the problems that people like me have their lives. and that 47% video has been very damaging, i think, for governor romney on that point. he needs to do two things that are different and maybe hard to do. both of them simultaneously. >> woodruff: that's what i want to ask you. how much contradiction, how much of a tension do they feel in what he needs to do? >> this is so high-stakes for governor romney. this is a close race but it's a race that's bending toward president obama. this 90 minutes on stage in denver wednesday night is governor romney's best chance to change that. >> woodruff: susan, what about the president? what does his campaign believe he has to do on wednesday? >> you know, an even-steven kind of debate would be fine with
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them because things are going in their direction. but he wants to keep... if romney needs to be on offense all the time he probably wants to put romney on defense for some of this. he probably also wants to address the idea that this disappointment in his economic performance and make the case as he's been making and his campaign appearances that he inherited a difficult situation, things are moving in the right direction although he understands people are still hurting. >> woodruff: how do you see what the obama camp believes they've got to do? >> susan is right. they don't want to be on the defensive. they don't want to make the mistake. you know, this is the kind of campaign where mitt rom needs to do more than have a draw. he needs to make a case. i think it's going to be awfully hard for him to close the imp thee gap given the context of "washington post" had an empathy gap. he has to change the dynamic. it's up to the president to answer each and all of the charges. so far the obama campaign has done a good job in talking about whose fault is the economy and
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how they have tried to respond. >> woodruff: what does it mean to change the dynamic of the race though? that sounds like a big task. >> it is. i think, judy, at the end of this or the day after the debate we have to be talking not about bane and mitt romney's money and whether mitt romney cares about 47% of the country. we have to be talking about the president's performance, what thate president should have, could have done and what mitt romney wants to do over the next month and how that is different from how barack obama would handle a second term. >> these debates can change the dynamics. we've had 10 presidential elections with televised debates. in three of them one candidate went into the first debate leading and another candidate came out of the last debate leading much it's turnedded campaigns in 1960 and 1980 and in 2000. so it can be done but it's a high task for sure. >> remember, we've been campaigning or we haven't been campaigning but the candidates have been campaigning for six months now. >> woodruff: do you agree with
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susan that a debate can change the trajectory of a race? >> i do. i think it can but it doesn't... it wasn't automatically change a trajectory. something significant has to happen. one of the contestants, one of the debaters has to say something that produces a lot of controversy for two or three days or do something, whether it's a... make a face, look at his watch. something has to happen that the voters look at. it changes how they evaluate the candidate. judy, the way i would put it is everybody needs to take a collective breath after this and say, wait a minute, maybe i need to reassess the campaign. that's what the romney folks need. >> we talk about set this race is. about 80% of americans of registered voters say they won't change their minds. that means 20% are either undecided or more likely only loosely committed to a candidate and might change their minds if the debate or the series of debates all three debates prompted them to take a second
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look. >> woodruff: in foreign policy in the last few days we're hearing a lot more from the rom camp about mistakes they say the president made when it came to the attack in libya. mitt romney has an op-ed in the wall street journal. is this likely to make a difference? this first debate is supposed to be about domestic issues. >> the white house is open to criticism that they mischaracterized the nature of the benghazi attack initially, tried to downplay it, said it wasn't terrorism but a mob action. i don't think this is the kind of issue that moves voters at a time when unemployment is 8.1% when the foreclosures are still a huge problem. it's an opening but not a game-changing kind of opening. >> i agree but if you're the romney campaign you look for any opportunity to put the president on the defensive and raise questions about him as a leader. that's what i think they're tryinged to do. >> woodruff: all right. well, we are delighted to have both of you back with us this monday night. stu rothenberg, susan page, thank you.
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>> brown: now, from the state of the race to one of the key issues. hari sreenivasan looks at what's at stake for one of the largest parts of the american health system: medicaid. >> another deep breath. sreenivasan: when many americans think of costly government programs, they often think of medicare. but medicaid, the nation's health insurance for low-income americans, actually covers more people. it covers children, the disabled and the elderly. here's how matt, who heads the national association of medicaid directors, explains it. >> it's incredibly important. we cover... medicaid covers 62 million americans. we cover 40% of the births in this country. we cover the majority of publicly funded long-term care services not medicare. we cover the majority of
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h.i.v./aids treatment, the majority of mental health treatment. anywhere you look for a safety net, medicaid is generally there. >> sreenivasan: medicaid is run by the state through rules set by washington. although it varies from state to state the federal government on average pays nearly 60% of the cost. the states pay the rest. those costs along with its prominent role in the federal health care reform law has inserted medicaid firmly into the middle of the presidential campaign. >> i put forward a detailed plan that would reform and strengthen medicare and medicaid. >> i would rather let the legislators and the governors of of the respective states what's the best way to provide care for those who need the care. >> sreenivasan: one of the most costly ways assistance is deliverd is for long-term care. roughly two-thirds of medicaid spending goes to the elderly or disabled. many in long-term care. >> the issue for aate lot of folks wind up on medicaid is that they end up doing what we call spending down.
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they end up in a nursing home or they end up with other types of very high medical bills that essentially exhaust all of their savings, all of their resources relatively quickly. and then at that point, medicaid steps in and picks up the rest of their care essentially for the rest of their lives. >> sreenivasan: there are people like matthew and georgia. today they live in a nursing home in maryland just outside of washington d.c. the couple were married on memorial day 1954 and have rarely missed a day of each other's company since. matthew, now 81, was a school system superintendent in new york state and an army veteran. georgia, now 79, kept busy raising the couple's seven children. they were all savers and planners. they put the kids through college all the while setting aside enough money they thought to see them comfortably through retirement. >> i was in education in new
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york state. they have a pretty good retirement program. which i had, of course. so i had a good retirement, social security, compensation check from the veterans, a small one. so i was pretty well set financially to take care of myself. >> sreenivasan: then the couple suffered a string of devastating medical problems. georgia was the first to have to live full time at the nursing home but she fought it tooth and nail. >> i really had a breakdown when they told me i was staying. my heart was set on getting better. i tried and tried and tried. one day we had a meeting with, you know, everyone that was involved. they convinced me that i was number one it was very hard to take, i would never walk again. i can't even stand up completely. >> sreenivasan: their daughter mary ellen became their primary
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caregiver. she remembers well the stress she was under when a series of serious medical conditions nearly took her dad down. >> there were countless trips in and out of johns hopkins. while i'm taking care of him i'm also still taking my mom to and from her doctors' appointments. in the meantime, in many respects it net like dad just wasn't getting better but i couldn't admit it. >> ear all in here. sreenivasan: today georgia's care is paid for by both medicaid and medicare. matthew's medicaid application ipending but both of them had to spend just about everything they saved to be poor enough to qualify for medicaid. after paying for prescriptions and other medical expenses each month they keep just $74 of the check they get from social security and veterans and retirement benefits. the rest goes to the nursing home. >> i had to dump all my stock. i had to dump my life insurance policy, her life insurance
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policy had to be dumped. they kept money out which we could to arrange for our funeral. a gravesite. the rest of the money we turned over -- i'm not complaining that's the way the game is. but now we're totally dependent on medicaid. >> sreenivasan: their story is all too familiar, according to matt. >> anyone of us at an advanced age really is just one fall away from a broken hip and then a spiraling out of conditions that could end you up in a nursing home or some other kind of, you know, life-altering decision. >> sreenivasan: for most states medicaid is one of the single biggest costs in their budget. costs and coverage are two of the principal reasons that president obama and republican nominee mitt romney have laid out very different visions for medicaid. for the president, the program
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is a critical component of expanded coverage under the health reform law. beginning in 2014, medicaid would grow to cover as many as 16 million more people. many of the new beneficiaries would include childless adults who don't qualify under federal law. the federal government would spend $440 billion more to cover these people for the first five years of the program. at first the federal government will foot 100% of the bill, but that drops to 93% by 2019, leaving the states with a $21 billion tab collectively. but romney wants to revoke the health care law and says its medicaid expansion is the wrong approach. instead romney wants to give states a set amount of money, effectively a block grant that would be more limited than what states receive today. states would be granted more flexibility. >> i'd take a program like medicaid which by the way is a program for poor individuals
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that need health care, provides health care services to the poor. i'd take that hundreds of billions of dollars and i'd cut it upstate by state based on the shares they're getting this year and send it to colorado to say, you care for your own poor's health care in the way you think best. >> we can't say what the status co- now. >> sreenivasan: this doctor was the medicare medicaid chief under president george w. bush. he now heads the health policy center at the brookings institution and sees merit in romney's ideas. >> they could move towards innovative ways of delivering care like doing more to provide nursing home type services at home, like doing more to prevent the the complications of conditions like asthma by sending nurses to patients' homes and helping them modify the home to prevent the emergency room visit. >> sreenivasan: governor romney has not spelled out whether he would allow local officials to deny medicaid to some current patients altogether or restrict health benefits they now
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receive. romney also says he would not have medicaid spending keep pace with projected health care inflation. in the all likelihood, a romney administration also would not provide additional funds to cover more recipients during a recession. in contrast to how the law currently works. president obama argues that ut c would cut coverage and services to the needy including seniors. >> here's the deal the states would be getting. they would have to be running these programs in the face of the largest cut to medicaid that has ever been proposed. a cut that according to one nonpartisan group would take away health care for about 19 million americans. 19 million. >> sreenivasan: bob green stein is the founder and president of the center on budget and policy priorities. he says governor romney's block grant proposal would hurt many patients. >> the biggest changes would be for the elderly and the disabled. the elderly and disabled are one
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quarter of medicaid beneficiaries but two thirds of the cost. that will rise as the population ages and there is no way you can extract savings of this magnitude without dramatickic reductions in health care for low-income people who are seniors or who have disables. >> sreenivasan: greenstein says the health reform law would pay for the medicaid expansion with billions of dollars in reductions that would save money throughout the health care system. while it's too early to say the extent to which this couple could be impacted by either candidates' plans they've been following this debate from their hurting home along with their daughter. >> my parents did not start out to be here. they didn't choose to be here. they didn't say, hey, i'm not going to take care of myself. i'm not going to deal with my finances because i know the government will take care of me. they the not go like that. i can tell you many of the other residents here are exactly the same. i don't really hear anything about medicaid. i think they really need to think about the fact that most
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people in this country are in our situation. >> sreenivasan: whoever wins in november is is going to have to grapple with the growing pressures of financing the program. but it seems clear the two candidates have very different visions for it. >> brown: on >> brown: online, our partners at kaiser health news answer some frequently asked questions about the campaigns' approaches to medicaid. and on wednesday, well host a li vidt eoha con the issue. you can find out more and submit your own queries on our health page. >> woodruff: now, the dismantling of middle class power and prosperity. ray suarez has our book conversation. >> suarez: one aspect of the current national campaign addressed by both parties is how hard it has been in recent years to get ahead in america, even to stay in place, as economic turmoil destroyed working lives, cratered housing values, and undermined retirement accounts. in "who stole the american
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dream?" veteran journalist hedrick smith takes us on a tour of the last four decades, of economic globalization, winners, and losers. hedrick smith, welcome. thanks, ray. nice to be with you. >> suarez: the story you tell, one of the striking parts of it is that who knew in the early to mid '70s that we'd some day look back on that as the good old days. >> right. suarez: as a time when working people were making pretty good living. >> well, they were living the american dream. they had pretty steady jobs. they had rising pay. they had benefits, health care. 85% of the people who workd for companies of over 100 employees had health care, had retirement. payments, a monthly check until you died on top of your social security. could afford to buy a home, pay off that mortgage over 30 years and hope that your kids would do better. that's a big chunk for an awful lot of people. it made america the envy of the world and let richard nixon go to moscow and tell the soviet leader we have a classless
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society. >> suarez: that is also... the people living that dream are also numerically the largest part of the united states. how did they become so politically weak? >> well, they were very strong back then. as you know, ray, the environmental movement was strong, put pressure on washington. the labor movement was strong, put pressure on general motors and general electric and the u.s. steel and so forth. the civil rights movement put pressure on washington to open up the american dream to blacks and other minorities. part of what happened to them was it was so successful. but part of what happened to them was there was a power shift. there was a tremendous change of power in washington, and that had big effect on the ability of middle class americans to achieve the american dream. the other thing that happened is what i call wedge economics. the splitting of the american middle class off from the games of the national economy. so that today you can see the economy improving bit by bit by middle class people aren't doing that much better. people at the top are doing real
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well. corporations are reporting profits, but the people in the middle aren't doing that well. back in the old days tbhak the heyday of the middle class, everybody sharedded in that prosperity. today everybody doesn't share in that prosperity. that's why so many people feel so much pain. >> suarez: you take us again and again in the book to key moments where things could have gone one way but they went another. one was the movement of tens of millions of workers from defined benefit to self funded pensions. tell us about that? >> you know, it's amazing. everyone talks about 401(k). almost noob knows why it's called the 401(k). it's because it's that far down in the tax code. it is buried deep in the tax code. when it was passed it was never intended to be a national retirement stp. it was put in the tax code as a favorite to kodak and xerox who have headquarters up in rochester new york by the republican congressman barbara who came from that district. they wanted a tax shelter to give extra money to their executives.
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fast forward in the reagan administration somebody said let's give that to ordinary people. fast forward again. the mutual fund industry says wow we get ahold of all of those billions of dollars of retirement savings we can make a lot of money. power to the people. do it yourself. it's been a disaster for most americans. they don't save enough when they change jobs they take their money out. when times get rough, as they have been recently, neither the company nor the individual contributes with the result that the average balance is about $18,000 in a 401(k). if you're just on the cuss-of retirement this may be $85,000 for somebody in their 60s and who has been in the plan for 20 years. that's nowhere near enough. people will say if you've been making $50,000 a year you need a half a million. is we've got half of the baby boomer generation headed for poverty essentially in retirement. living on essentially only their social security. >> suarez: how do you explain the upward distribution of income? the new dollars that came into the economy went very heavily up to the top places of earnings.
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we don't have a society that's built on envy, regleptment, a desire for ex-appropriation. how do those things live side by side. >> that's a very good question. let's just take the facts for a moment. the productivity of the american work force from world war ii to the mid '70s grew almost double. 97%. the wage and salaries of average americans not just assembly line workers but plumbers, carpenters, small business people, they rose 95%. just about the same increase in wages and salaries as in productivity. the wealth, the growth, the economy the prosperity was shared. since then, however, those wedge economics came in. what you've seen is productivity has continued to grow about 80% since 1973. but the average hourly compensation of an average worker has grown only 10%. the ceos' pay has quadrupled, the income of the people at the
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top 1% has grown 600%. the census bureau says the average male worker since 1978 is making just the same pay adjusted for inflation so it's flat in the middle and it's soaring up at the top. tremendous inequality. i think you're right. people don't favor ex-appropriation. americans are more tolerant of economic inequality than europeans and asians but you do see in poll after poll people are... there's too many wealth concentrated at the top. there's too much power in washington lobbyists. the tax system should be chaiked to raise taxes on the top brackets. two-thirds of americans agree in almost every poll to those numbers so there is sentiment to change things. but there's not anger in any kind of rebellious sense of word. in fact there's not even the same kind of anger that promptedded the middle class to protest back in the '60s and '70s. >> suarez: there are tons of books covering this era that take a cut of it just as a political story or just as an economic story or even as a
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cultural story. the story you're trying to tell here needs to be all those things. i think you're saying you have to look at it all in an interlocking way to understand it. >> absolutely. such a good point you're making here. what we forgot was that middle class prosperity, economics, depended on middle class power. politics. and today this gross inequality that you see in income is accompanied by a starkly unequal democracy. symbolized by the super pacs, symbolized by the fact that business, lobbyists... business spends 65 times as much money on lobbyists as labor day. there are 12,500 roughly business lobbyists, registered lobbyists lockying congress for the administration and only 400 for labor. they have this very lopsided economic situation right alongside this very lopsided political situation. >> suarez: who stole the american dream? hedrick smith, thanks a lot. >> thank you, ray. woodruff: the conversation with rick smiths continues on
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twitter. >> brown: finally tonight, a new pbs documentary shines a light on the oppression of women and girls worldwide. "half the sky" airs in two parts over two nights, starting this evening. it's based on a book of the same name by "new york times" columnist nicholas kristof and his wife, journalist sheryl wudunn. kristof traveled to six countries to look at gender- based violence, forced prostitution, maternal mortality, and other issues. in this excerpt, he and actress eva mendes tour a sexual abuse victim's center in sierra leonea >> welcome to the rainbow center. really primarily to rape. we provide specialized medical treatment and counseling as well. we've seen over 9,000 survivors
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in eight years. 52% are between the ages of 12 and 17. you have about 26% that are under 12. >> under 12? 26% are under 12? >> under 12 years old, yes. we see more and more children about 80% of our clientele. we see average between 100 to 200 a month. they are as young as two-and-a-half months old. we have a three-year-old that has just come in for follow-up. >> it's a three-year-old girl. a three-year-old girl who has been raped. she's just come back for follow-up. yeah. you want to come with me?
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>> what is the story? she was getting sick. they took her into the hospital. that's when it was realized that she has been abused because they have not been to know who it is. >> you can't even fathom like how somebody could even just hurt a child but how they can commit such an an gris he have sexual act against them. >> this is jessica. how you can rape a child is beyond... >> it's magic. jessica is doing much better now. >> i mean, why? why? >> woodruff: joining me now from new york are husband and wife team coauthors nicholas kristof and sheryl wudunn. for more than two decades they've been working to draw
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attention to neglected issues in areas of the world. we welcome you both. nick, we just saw you in that clip from sierra leone. it's just an unimaginable situation. >> but in many ways, judy it's really the face of modern conflict. it's what happens these days in civil wars that militias and warlords don't want to tangle with each other because they might actually get shot. they turn their ak-47s on local women and women's bodies become modern weapons of war. even when the conflict ends the ma lish stop shooting other people but rape including young children continues. we've seen that in place after place after place. >> woodruff: nick, why are women the victims? >> i think because people can get away with it in a sense because they don't fielt back. if you're a former of a militia and you still have your gun or yoyou still have that kind of
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violent mentality. if you set up a check point on the highway and rob a truck, you'll be caught and executed. that's a priority for the government. if you go around raping young girls that's not a priority for the government and you don't get prosecuted and nothing happens. >> but at the same time you terrorize a village. >> woodruff: that's right. cheryl, i was going to ask you about that and about how widespread is this beyond sierra leone? >> it's actually more widespread than anybody would like. it is a weapon of terrorism. it is a way to actually make a statement that also terrorizes an entire community. everybody has girls and women in their family. so those people who are... whose women are afflicted are are terrorized. >> woodruff: we're talking about across the developing world. cheryl, why is it tolerated? >> well, i think that it's not so much tolerated as it is just... it's just people bear
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it. they endure it. partly because there are no super organizations, governments, large n.g.o.s, other governments who are stepping in to try and help or fix or remove the situation. i think it's an issue that people in general don't seem to care enough about to bring about change. so if there is a way that we can say that everybody here in the world says that this is not something that should be tolerated, then i think people will take steps to eradicate it. >> woodruff: nick, in that connection i think in sierra leone you talked to one investigator who had looked at what, over a thousand cases, but in all of those cases there was only one conviction? how can that be? >> well because it simply is not a priority for the government. this is something that one can bring about change in. you know, we've seen it in congo. we've seen this in sudan that
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when there become penalties this patterns change. we've that in sex trafficking around the world. if authorities go after pimps then all of a sudden it becomes less lucrative less attractive to be a pimp. there are no magic bullets here but one thing we can do is apply pressure to help raise this issue on the agenda. instead of one tenth of one percent of rapes being prosecuted in sierra leone if it rises to 10% that will send a powerful message through the community. it will lead to change. one example in the case of sierra leone is is it used to have the worst maternal mortality rate in the world. that got attention. sierra leone was embarrassed now delivery is free in sierra leone. and the maternal mortality rate has dropped by more than half. >> it's also important to see that women can actually become part of the solution so if they can actually be empowered economically look at all that potential economic income that can be brought into a household. >> woodruff: that's what i wanted to ask you about, cheryl
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because i think one of the foc focuses that you describe is turning oppression into opportunity. i wanted to ask you how do you do that? >> there are many ways. first of all the government has to say it is very important for the populous to be he indicated so they need to mandate education for everybody including girls. then they have to say well it's also that we allow our women to work in the workplace to actually become productive members of society. once you give a woman education and a chance to work, she can astound you. >> woodruff: , i want to ask both of you have. for people who are sitting at home watching this on television or their computer, what can they do about this? >> we have website. we have an action tab there. so our hope is that people are going to watch the documentary on pbs and then they're going to go to that website and then
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they're going to do something. it may be make a donation or engage with some organization or volunteer their time oar write a letter but i mean the metric of success for this documentary isn't the number of people watching it it's the number of people who then take action and get involved. >> even spreading the word is really important because the more people who see that this is an issue, the more people who begin to care about this as an issue then the governments start to realize that this is something that voters care about. they will actually vote for policy changes which is also very, very important. >> woodruff: i wanted to ask you all about this because, you know, in many ways people look e scenes. while it certainly tears at your heart strings you think it's so far away. am i really connected to this? >> i mean, i guess there are a couple of answers to that. one is that there are real needs we need to address right here at moment. sex trafficking is worse in india or cambodia than it is in new york or washington. but we have problems here.
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if we want to have the moral authority to tell other countries to clean up their act we have to do more rye here at home. the other thing is is there's one view that we really need to solve our problems at home before we begin to address problems abroad. the policy there is that first interventions abroad often get more bang for the buck than those here. it is very cheap to save a life abroad. second that compassion and our empathy shouldn't depend on the color of somebody's skin or the color of their passport. >> woodruff: cheryl, do you want to add anything to that about why people should feel connected to this? >> i also think that there are many things that we can learn not only from policies and programs that we have implemented here at home but also ale broad. there's a lot of learning that we actually are garnering from programs that somewhere been established abroad to aaddress trafficking because it is a problem that started abroad that was much more of an issue abroad before it came to our own
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shores. they've had a longer history. also in a place like sweden there is great deal of learning hing in the way they've actually tried to eradicate trafficking. they've been much more successful than other other societies in focusing on demand on the johns. we can learn from them as well. i really think it is a globalized world. we need to actually look at this as a global problem. >> woodruff: we thank you both for helping us understand more about it. you can watch more excerpts about sierraneeo about india's cast system and education in afghanistan on our webb site. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day. the u.s. supreme court opened its new session with a docket of major cases that could include gay marriage, affirmative action and civil rights law.
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a suicide bomber in afghanistan killed at least 14 people, including three american troops. and president obama and mitt romney stayed out of sight as they prepped for their first debate, wednesday night. kwame holman previews some of what we have for you on our web site, including more advice for people facing social security quandaries. >> holman: in today's installment of "ask larry," retirement expert laurence kotlikoff takes your questions on social security, including how marriage might change disability benefits for mental illness. we take a spin in a "driverless" car in california, where new legislation allows automatically piloted vehicles access to the open road. and poet sharon olds reads some
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of her work on art beat. all that and more is on our web site, judy? >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on tuesday, we report on the race in north carolina, which president obama turned blue four years ago, with the help of an historic african-american turnout. i'm judy woodruff. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: and the william and flora hewlett foundation, working to solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world.
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and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh
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